When I first arrived in the magical capital of Spain I was filled with both fear and excitement for the unknown journey I was about to embark on. I did not know a single person in my program coming into it, and I was afraid my Spanish was not good enough. I am pleased to say that during this adventure I met an abundance of interesting people and grew in my ability to speak and comprehend Spanish. Overall, the greatest thing I got out of my time in Madrid was a new perspective on life. Diving into Spanish culture by exploring, sight-seeing, and testing the cuisine helped me grow as a person and opened my mind to the culture and customs of the colorful city of Madrid! Here I will highlight the best adventures I had while in Spain for the month.
A Taste of Spanish Cuisine
I have not always been the most adventurous eater, however, I promised myself when going abroad that I would try every Spanish food possible. I am so happy I did because I was able to eat some of the most delicious meals of my life. My absolute favorite meal in Spain was paella. Paella is a Spanish dish that is a mixture of seafood, meat, and rice. I tried paella for the first time on the ISA excursion we took to Valencia. Paella originated in Valencia, and the paella there is known to be the best in all of Spain. It was delicious, and because Valencia is on the coast, the seafood was extremely fresh. A serving of paella is very large and it comes out in a large pan, so if you decide to indulge in this Spanish cuisine keep in mind that you will definitely want to share it with others. During my time in Madrid I always tried new restaurants and ordered various tapas since there are so many tapas bars in Madrid. I am so glad I did since nowhere else in the world does tapas like Spain does.
Below is a list of the best restaurants I got to experience in Madrid:
- Tintos y Tapas (best tapas)
- Chocolatería de San Gínes (best churros)
- Takos al Pastor (1 euro tacos)
- Federal Cafe (good brunch)
- Museo de Jamón (typical Madrid reacciones)
Oh the Sights You’ll See
The views to see and activities to do in Madrid are endless. Of course, I certainly have my personal favorites. Many of the sights and activities truly impacted me and help widen my perspectives. El Prado Museum was one of the sights that gave me actual goosebumps when visiting. Seeing some of the most famous artworks created in all of history was astounding. I was so blown away with the beauty of the museum, and seeing all of the paintings that I had seen so many times as photographs in person was phenomenal. Observing such intricate art done by some of the most famous artists in the world made me appreciate paintings so much more. I was moved by the beauty and details in every paintings more than I expected to be.
Another impactful event that occurred while in Madrid was my first night in Spain. I arrived rather late the first day in Madrid so I took myself to dinner in a lively square known as Puerta del Sol. After dinner I was walking home and saw from the distance a large building that appeared to be a lit up castle. In fact, it was the Royal Palace of Madrid. Here I was in this new country looking at a dreamy palace right in the middle of the city. It was truly one of the most magical moments of my life. I had arrived in Madrid and I knew in that moment that I had just embarked on a truly special journey.
Here are some of the best places I visited and spent time at in Madrid:
- El Prado (museum)
- Reina de Sofía (modern art museum)
- Retiro Park (park with gardens and small lake)
- Royal Palace of Madrid (dreamy palace)
- Puerta del Sol (main square)
- Templo de Debod (Egyptian temple given to Spain—great place for the sunset)
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